Late Night News of the Weird: In Some Areas, 2019 Never Disappoints

Apparently totally free markets are not without their pitfalls! I don’t pretend to fully understand it, but here’s an update from Gizmodo:

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has acknowledged it made a major mistake when it bought Italian blockchain analytics firm Neutrino, whose senior management staff included several members of infamous Italian firm Hacking Team—which has reportedly sold powerful hacking and surveillance tools to oppressive governments.

A 2015 report by Motherboard found that Hacking Team sold software to “Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan and many others,” matching the findings of research by Citizen Lab. A cache of documents stolen from Hacking Team servers by hackers and leaked to media showed that it had faced a United Nations inquiry into whether the sale of its Remote Control System spyware to Sudan violated embargoes imposed over its government’s numerous human rights abuses, which include allegations of slavery, child soldiers, persecution of dissidents, and war crimes.

Hacking Team sold its tools stateside to the Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI—something also not likely to go down well with the cryptocurrency community, which tends to lean heavily libertarian.

Per Bloomberg, Coinbase users as well as blockchain-focused publication Breaker Mag quickly clued onto the fact that many of Neutrino’s executives were Hacking Team alumni. In a blog post on Medium, Coinbase co-founder Brian Armstrong said the onboarding of Hacking Team staff was due to a “gap in our due diligence process” and that the decision was not properly evaluated “from the perspective of our mission and values as a crypto company.” Armstrong added that those individuals will be leaving Coinbase…

According to crypto industry publication CoinDesk, Coinbase director of institutional sales Christine Sandler had previously justified the acquisition of Neutrino by stating their previous analytics provider had been “selling client data to outside sources,” spooking some customers further.

However, on Tuesday, a Coinbase spokesperson told Coindesk it had “never shared our customers’ personally identifiable information with any third-party blockchain analysis vendors.” Some users characterized the Neutrino acquisition as another privacy violation, CoinDesk wrote, with one writing, “It’s really frightening to think who has gained access to Coinbase customer data over the years.” …

14 replies
  1. 1
    hells littlest angel says:

    Hacking Team sold its tools stateside to the Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI—something also not likely to go down well with the cryptocurrency community, which tends to lean heavily libertarian.

    I don’t see the problem for libertarians. They sold the tools; they didn’t give them away to poor people.

  2. 2

    Our only hope is for the sun to emit an electro-magnetic pulse that fries the electric grid & every damn “device” on the face of (& beneath) the planet.

  3. 3
    Keith P. says:

    @M. Bouffant: And finally, the beeping will stop! The incessant beeping…

  4. 4
    NotMax says:

    Snake oil reduced to zeroes and ones. Why not skip the sham and just call the company IGMFU?

  5. 5
    Betty Cracker says:

    Thanks to some wag on Twitter, I now think of cryptocurrency as Dunning-Krugerrands.

  6. 6
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Cryptocurrency = libertarian money? Sounds shady.

  7. 7
    mrmoshpotato says:

    Can anyone explain what the point is of crunching all these numbers to get Bitcoins? Does the processing power actually further any scientific cause?

  8. 8
    David Evans says:

    @mrmoshpotato: It hastens the day when no-one can deny global warming.

  9. 9
    Anne Laurie says:

    @hells littlest angel:

    I don’t see the problem for libertarians. They sold the tools; they didn’t give them away to poor people.

    From what I can tell — and I’ll admit I’m prejudiced — one of the major draws to cryptocurrency is that it should keep Tha Big Gubmint from knowing where you got your money, or what you’re doing with it, because FREEDOM. But if your personal boutique Money Gnomes are selling the tools to harvest your valuable bodily fluids… I mean, private information… to Tha Big Gubmint, then there is no greater betrayal!!!

    Kinda like traditionalist Catholics discovering that good, certified “celibate” priests have been using the power ceded to them by the traditionalist Catholics to indulge in every variety of perverse sexual abuse. Except the tradCaths could always blame the human victims (who must’ve done something to ask for it), whereas to the people who believe in bitcoin, the abused Money can only be victimized. And, since the libertarian worth of each human is measured by the worth of their money, victimizing the money is victimizing them.

  10. 10
    Gin & Tonic says:


    Does the processing power actually further any scientific cause?


  11. 11
    Chris Johnson says:

    @mrmoshpotato: No. It is literally ‘mo exponential burning of energy resources, mo money’. The whole reason it’s not inflationary is that it requires wildly increasing expenditures of energy to ‘mint new coins’, so allowing any old person to do it is harmless because you wind up having to burn the entire energy production of Germany to make a single new coin and get $1000.

    It’s a solution to the economic problem of inflationary currency that ‘everyone can make’ but still counts as currency, so it decentralizes currency, but it does so by obliterating the planet. The more bitcoins are out there controlled by powerful and wealthy people (and not just internet randos), the more the world will be governed to enable further proliferation of bitcoin, and the more energy will be literally burned up for an abstraction. This energy will come from both fossil fuels and consuming the entire output of renewable energy sources, guaranteeing our planet will turn into a bomb and basically explode from thermal stress (at least insofar as extreme weather events driven by wildly increasing climate chaos counts as ‘stress’, and then there’s also just the simple heat increases themselves).

    For NOTHING. For patterns of numbers in a virtual bank account on a computer somewhere. For keeping score.

    We might just as well decree ‘the richest person in the world now has ten thousand times the wealth he had. Because we say so. All hail richest person!’. We could do that without literally burning the planet up and the justification would be about as good, and it would be a lot simpler, but NOOOOO… we gotta do it by the rules and exactly the same outcome will happen. Only the richest can afford the server farms and huge electricity supplies to get richer off bitcoin, now.

    The whole thing stinks. Though admittedly I am a socialist and not a libertarian or Republican, so feel free to side with the richest fuckers in the world rather than me.

  12. 12
    Obvious Russian Troll says:

    @Chris Johnson: The hilarious yet sad thing is that (as I’m sure you well know, but not everybody realises this) is that many of the cryptocurrency enthusiasts are the same idiots who five years ago were complaining about “fiat money” and how we should go back on the gold standard. Gold can be used for jewelry and has some industrial uses; Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have none.

  13. 13

    I don’t pretend to fully understand it

    To be Scrupulously Fair, cryptocurrency advocates don’t understand it either.

  14. 14
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Betty Cracker: I think of it as Buttcoin, in “honor” of the ur-source of this meshugge notion. YMMV (which in this context means “your money might vanish”…)

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